Deal Hudson and Father Z respond to David Mills

Deal Hudson responds to David Mill’s “converts should stop talking so much” piece at Crux in a response also at Crux.  Hudson writes:

There are quite a few cradles I have learned from experience just to ignore. Catholic wisdom is hardly recognized by the date on your baptismal certificate.

Mills even suggests that a convert’s knowledge of Scripture and theology is “naively” overrated, but adds, “that’s another article.” I look forward to seeing it, but just who does he have in mind?

The late Father Louis Bouyer, himself a convert from Lutheranism, told me his seminal book, The Spirit and Forms of Protestantism, was started when he was a Lutheran but was a Catholic by the time he finished it. Is Bouyer one of those converts whose theological knowledge is overrated?

Finally, we come to Mills in the garden. In an attempt to make his argument concrete, he posits a garden with flowers – a convert does not stand amidst the garden, he says, but sees it “through a bay window.”

“He has to spend many years outside to know what life in the garden is really like,” Mills writes.

Am I mistaken in believing that I was received into the Church on the day I was confirmed at the Hawthorne Sisters’ Our Lady of Perpetual Help Cancer Home in Atlanta, Georgia in February, 1984? That puts me inside the garden, does it not? If not, at what point is a convert admitted?

And Father Z had this response on  his site:

It astonishes me that people keep going to back to this third rail and jumping up and down on it.

I think all these people grumbling about converts are concerned because of the more conservative positions held by many visible converts who are well-known for speaking and writing on Catholic issues.

Let’s turn the sock inside out.  How about this:

  • Cradle Catholics should learn something about their Faith.
  • Cradle Catholics should go to Confession before Communion.
  • Cradle Catholics should stop shacking up and get married.
  • Cradle Catholics should stop contracepting at same rate as non-Catholics.
  • Cradle Catholics should speak less, listen more.

I don’t have stats at my finger tips, but I’ll wager that the converts the libs want to silence are more faithful in these matters than most cradle Catholics.

Back in the days after Anglicanorum Coetibus, when there was a lot of uncertainty about what would happen, what the Ordinariates would look like, how we in the Traditional Anglican Communion would fare, and so on, I remember my inner sense of offense when I was told we would have to go through RCIA.  And later, we heard, our clergy could not conduct it because “they weren’t Catholic.”

“RCIA!!!???   RCIA?????!!!!   Are you kidding me?” I thought to myself, when I heard a bishop musing about this.  “I know someone who teaches RCIA in your diocese and she isn’t even a Christian, never mind a Catholic.”

We chose to do the Evangelium Course, that Our Lady of Walsingham used.  And our then Bishop Carl Reid taught it, though we had our priest mentor in the audience available to correct our non-Catholic bishop should he fall into error.   Interestingly, at one point during the catechesis,  Fr. Carl, now Dean of the Deanery of St. John the Baptist of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, said of something in the Evangelium Course:  “That’s wrong.”  Then he explained why it was wrong.   And, lo and behold, our mentor priest, a canon lawyer, agreed with him!  Sorry, I can’t remember the particular doctrinal point.

Yeah, maybe like David Mills, we already thought we were already catholic, and more  catholic than many cradle Catholics, but certainly not more catholic than dear Papa Benedict XVI!  So the response of the hierarchy seemed to be, “Oh, you think you’re catholic?  Well, let’s move the bar up higher.  How about this?”

But no, interestingly enough, we did not have our faces rubbed in Apostolica Curiae, except by some traditionalists on blogs.  Our clergy did have to go through long periods of becoming lay men and wearing civilian clothes –a painful time of stripping of identity and uncertainty whether they would ever be ordained as Catholic priests.

So, when our people signed on the dotted line that we believed everything the Catholic Church teaches as revealed to be true, we had it drummed into us every difficult teaching that most cradle Catholics these days reject, such as the evils of artificial contraception.

The Evangelium Course proved to be a good refresher for our people, kind of like the way an Alpha Course can be a good refresher on the basics.

When I shared this story with a cradle Catholic friend, she told me we were lucky to have this rigorous training before entering the Catholic Church.   She laments that so many cradle Catholics do not know their faith and that little seems to be done to make sure they are taught.



2 thoughts on “Deal Hudson and Father Z respond to David Mills

  1. I think Mills must have in mind some very specific “public converts,” and his comments are aimed at them (I have no idea who they may be). Anyway, his experience certainly doesn’t jive with my own. I think Father Z hits close to the mark when he suggests that the “problem” is that many outspoken converts have embraced aspects of the Faith more enthusiastically and deeply than most cradle Catholics (who have been very poorly formed in their faith and practice) and therefore are suspect for being too “conservative,” “traditional,” “doctrinaire,” etc. Catholic “reverts” are often regarded with the same prejudice. The real problem is that cradle Catholics do not, as a whole, possess “the real Catholic mind or imagination – the Catholic paradigm, the way Catholics see the world,” but the mind of the world with a few Catholic knicknacks appended.


    • Yes, there’s a huge disconnect between the authentic teaching of the magisterium and what is happening “on the ground” in far too many of our parishes! Any catechetical program in which young parishioners don’t learn the faith of the Church and make it their own is an abject failure.



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